January 23, 2009 By Wayne Hanson
"By increasing staff, expanding hours, and broadening the use of technology, we can increase the number of citizens we can serve each day and reduce wait times." -- Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm (pictured)
Michigan Governor Jennifer M. Granholm, said in an audio message on her Web site, that the state has reached a 25-year high 10.6 percent unemployment rate.
Wednesday Granholm outlined additional steps that state departments and agencies, including the Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA), the Department of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth (DELEG), the Office of the State Employer, the Department of Management and Budget, and the Department of Information Technology are taking to expand services for workers and businesses being impacted. Department and agency leaders announced additional expanded hours, new technology and additional service options.
"Working men and women who have felt the impact of this recession through job loss shouldn't also have to deal with long lines and delays in receiving their unemployment benefits," said Granholm. "Since this challenge began, we have been working to expand the system to meet the rising demand and will continue to seek creative solutions until every citizen's needs are met."
Traditionally, December and early January are among the busiest times for Michigan's UIA with seasonal layoffs in the auto and supplier industries and retail trade. These seasonal factors combined with recession-induced high unemployment and two federal unemployment benefit extensions have resulted in higher than anticipated call volumes.
Granholm announced a series of measures to handle the volume of unemployment applicants including:
The expanded services announced Wednesday will supplement earlier steps taken, including the hiring of 90 temporary staff, opening an additional PRO in Detroit, re-deployment of some DELEG staff to assist UIA efforts, requiring mandatory overtime for call center staff, and added additional computer server capacity.
"In this time of severe economic challenge, more citizens than ever are in need, and we must do all we can to provide them with the assistance they need," said Granholm. "By increasing staff, expanding hours, and broadening the use of technology, we can increase the number of citizens we can serve each day and reduce wait times."
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